Matthew 20:13

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?

Matthew 20:13 in Other Translations

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
13 But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?
13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage?
13 "He replied to the one speaking for the rest, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn't we?
13 "He replied to one of them, 'Friend, I'm doing you no wrong. Didn't you agree with me on a denarius?

Matthew 20:13 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 20:13

But he answered one of them
Who was the forwardest and loudest in his complaints, and represented the rest;

and said, friend, I do thee no wrong;
by giving all alike, the same privileges and blessings to the last, as to the first, since nothing was withheld from him. And indeed the Lord does no wrong to any, by the distinction which he makes among his creatures: he is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works: he does no injury to the evil angels, by choosing the good angels, and confirming them in the estate in which they were created; when the others are reserved in chains of darkness, to the judgment of the great day; or by choosing fallen men, in Christ, and making provisions of grace for them, and not devils: and so there is no unrighteousness in him, nor does he do any wrong to any, when, like the potter, out of the same clay, he makes one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour; any more than when, in a providential way, he gives riches and wealth to some, and withholds them from others; or sends his Gospel, the means of grace to one, and not to another: and still less can he be thought to do wrong to the sons of men, by giving to them alike the same grace and privileges here, and the same happiness and glory hereafter; since neither have any right to what they have, or shall enjoy, and no one has the less for what is given to the other.

Didst thou not agree with me for a penny?
That is, to labour in the vineyard all the day for a penny; yea, this agreement was made personally with him, not with a servant, or messenger of his; though if it had, it ought, according to the Jewish canons, to have been abode by, which run thus F2:

``A man says to his messenger, or servant, go and hire workmen for me for three pence; he goes and hires them for four pence: if the messenger says to them, your wages be upon me, he gives them four pence, and takes three pence of the master of the house; he looses one out of his own purse: if he says to them, your hire be upon the master of the house, the master of the house gives them according to the custom of the province: if there are one in the province that hired for three pence, and others that are hired for four pence, he gives them but three pence, "and the murmuring" is against the messenger; in what things? When the work is not known, but when the work is known, and it is worth four pence, the master of the house gives them four pence; but if his messenger does not say to them four pence, they do not labour and do what deserves four pence. The householder says to him, hire me for four pence, and the messenger goes and hires for three pence, though the work deserves four pence, they have but three pence; because that (Nmue le wlbq) , "they took it upon themselves", (i.e. they agreed for so much,) and their murmuring is against the messenger.''

Thus the argument in the parable proceeds upon the agreement, which ought to be abode by.


F2 Maimon. Hilch, Shecirut, c. 9. sect. 3.

Matthew 20:13 In-Context

11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.
12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?
14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.
15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

Cross References 1

  • 1. Matthew 22:12; Matthew 26:50
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